Iranian president calls Israel ‘disgraceful blot’

Thursday, October 27, 2005 Iranians plan a nation-wide demonstration on Friday in support of their president's comments that called for the elimination of Israel. The demonstrations would coincide with the annual event called al-Quds Day, where the Israeli control of Jerusalem is protested.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a speech to 3,000 students in Tehran said Wednesday there was, "no doubt the new wave [of attacks] in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot from the face of the Islamic world." At a conference called "The World without Zionism", the recently elected Iranian president Ahmadinejad said the establishment of Israel was, "a move by the world oppressor against the Islamic world," a reference to Western military and political pressure.

Ahmadinejad won the presidency in June with a populist approach that stressed Islam and revolutionary principles. The speech cited numerous references to the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and included a declaration that, "As the imam said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

Other similar remarks, such as "God willing, the eradication of Israel would soon be realized through the continued wisdom of the Palestinian nation," have drawn wide condemnation.

France and Germany have summoned the respective Iranian ambassadors to their countries. A spokesperson for the British government called the remarks "deeply disturbing and sickening". The European Union said in a joint statement that "calls for violence, and for the destruction of any state, are manifestly inconsistent with any claim to be a mature and responsible member of the international community".

Israeli Prime minister Ariel Sharon said that "a country that calls for the destruction of another people cannot be a member of the United Nations" and added: "Such a country that has nuclear weapons is a danger, not only to Israel and the Middle East, but also to Europe."

The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan expressed "dismay" over Ahmadinejad's remarks. In statements released by his secretary on Thursday, Annan, whose plans still include a visit to Iran within a month, said he would "place the Middle East peace process, and the right of all states in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force, at the top of his agenda for that visit." The U.N. Charter calls on all members to refrain from threats or force against the territorial integrity or political independence of another state.

A U.S. state department spokesman, Sean McCormick, said the United States would not support the call by Israel to eject Iran from the United Nations. McCormick's response was centered on issues of the enriched uranium processing in Iran, the human rights of its people, and alleged support for terrorism abroad.

The U.S. has had no formal diplomatic relations with Iran since the Islamic revolution of 1979.

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